It’s October which means it is time for some ‘spookier’ reads. While I’m not a fan of more graphic horror or thrillers, Dead Boy by Laurel Gale has a touch of the macabre that highlights the lovely messages within.
Debut author Laurel Gale didn’t miss a trick with this middle-school read. Crow is undead – not quite zombie, but truly dead, just still animated. Life is just weird for the poor little guy: his parents have split up, he’s sure it is his fault, he can’t go to school like other kids, his mother occasionally has to darn up a new hole or stitch a body part back on, and did we mention the smell? That’s not pleasant either, nor are the maggots that creep out of his nose like unmanageable bogies. But Crow is thoughtful and considered, and he really just wants a friend.
Then, Melody moves in next door. Not allowed to go out during the heat of the day because that will speed up his physical demise, he’s taken to sneaking out at night to meet this new girl who believes in aliens and Area 51, loves a good mystery and has few if any illusions about the facades that people present. She sees Crow as kind and generous, thoughtful and above all, great friend material.
Gale has created a wonderful set of characters in this: Crow who is just adorable and Melody who wants to know just HOW he died, and his mother who is more than a bit obsessed with keeping her child ‘alive’ and safe. While Melody is most interested in sorting out the mystery around Crow’s death, the solidity of their friendship and the beauty in selfless behaviors. While middle graders will find it easy to understand and relate to both Crow and Melody, adults who venture into this title will appreciate the nuance and fearless tackling of issues surrounding his parents, their divorce and Crow’s mother and her obsessions to the detriment of a life outside the home. Full of magic, fun and imagery, this story is a winner for middle graders and the parents who love them.
Title: Dead Boy
Author: Laurel Gale
Published by: Crown Books for Young Readers
Published on: 29 September, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 5 Hours: 59 minutes
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A darkly funny and literary debut novel about a dead boy named Crow who has a chance at friendship - and a chance at getting his life back
Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a life.
Crow Darlingson died in the 4th grade. But he’s still alive. And growing, actually. He can’t eat or taste anything, his body parts sometimes fall off (mom always sews them back on, though), and he’s only allowed to leave his house once per year, on Halloween.
Crow’s parents are separating, and despite their reassurances, he’s pretty sure it’s his fault. After all, having an undead son can’t be much easier than being one. Sneaking out at night only makes things worse, but he can’t resist the chance at a real friendship with Melody Plympton, the new girl next door, who loves mystery more than she minds the stink of his flesh or the maggots that sometimes crawl out of his nose.
Together they investigate the mysterious Meera - a monster living in the nearby park. Logic and fear tell Crow to stay away, but fuzzy memories lure him on. When Crow and Melody venture into its underground lair, Crow’s not just risking the half-life he clings to. He’s also risking the only friend he’s had in years.
The importance of friendship is crystallized as Crow and Melody face tests of loyalty, courage, and honor in this macabre middle grade novel by a debut author.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.